I think truth nowadays is like beauty: it’s in the eye of the beholder. There was a time when lying was oh-so-bad. In a time such as now where people actually brand themselves, it’s just marketing. (I should explain “branding” quickly for those closer to my age. I’m told that young adults are trying to get their name to be associated with certain items or events… kind of like Eddie Bauer and Martha Stewart. When you say those names, you know the quality of the product. This new branding doesn’t require a product, though. That person might be the “go to” for vacation ideas or party themes, for instance.) Anyway, back to truth.
As a principal, I am challenged with finding truth many times a week. Gifted students are particularly prone to lying. I have tells I look for when I’m skeptical about a story. I know, though, that, once a person lies about something a couple of times, it becomes his truth. This makes my job very challenging.
I have told many-a-parent that the lying gifted kids do often isn’t malicious. Rather, many do it just because it’s more creative than the truth. I once had a student tell me that his 54-page script accidentally fell in his dad’s shredder. I immediately replied, “Wow! Can I have the name of that shredder? Mine gets jammed on two pages!” The next day he confessed that he had just lost the script. I asked why he didn’t just say so, and he just shrugged and smiled.
I’ve certainly seen an increase in lying, and I don’t think I can contribute it all to being at a school for the gifted. I think social media actually promotes lying. Because every thought a person puts out there falls victim to ridicule and disgust, I think kids have become afraid to be honest. At times I feel kids are searching for the response I want. If it’s not true, so what? They don’t appreciate me digging deeper when their answers just don’t add up.
I think, as the parent of a gifted child, it is important to know that gifted kids tend to lie. This doesn’t make them bad people. Getting away with a lie is like a challenge, and some are drawn to that. Others just think the truth is too boring. Your child will have some kind of “tell,” though. The quicker you learn it, the less likely you are to buy into a whopper. In my experience, the lies a gifted teen tells you are far less harmful than the lies he tells himself. That’s where you need to worry. Feelings of low self-worth begin with lies a person believes about himself. If you are one of the parents of a quiet teen – you know, the one who talks to you on the ride home and then shuts the door to his room all evening, you must establish a mandatory “visiting” time. Dinner is the natural place. If you allow your teen to cut himself off from the family, he is learning “truth” from the Internet society. I don’t know about you, but that’s not my truth.
P.S. I can have a post script, right? I just read my daughter’s piece, and I have a whole new perspective on why so many gifted students lie: could it be because they are mastering this “adult behavior” at an earlier age than their peers? Hmmm. They master other things earlier. Why not this? I’ll have to ponder this idea for a bit!